Binary clocks are a great way to confuse your non-technical peers when they ask the time from you — not that knowing about the binary system would magically give you quick reading skills of one yourself. In that case, they’re quite a nice little puzzle, and even a good alternative to the quarantine clocks we’ve come across a lot recently, since you can simply choose not to bother trying to figure out the exact time. But with enough training, you’ll eventually get the hang of it, and you might be in need for a new temporal challenge. Well, time to level up then, and the Cryptic Wall Clock built by [tomatoskins] will definitely keep you busy with that.
If you happen to be familiar with the Mengenlehreuhr in Berlin, this one here uses the same concept, but is built in a circular shape, giving it more of a natural clock look. And if you’re not familiar with the Mengenlehreuhr (a word so nice, we had to write it twice), the way [tomatoskins]’ clock works is to construct the time in 24-hour format by lighting up several sections in the five LED rings surrounding a center dot.
Starting from the innermost ring, each section of the rings represent intervals of 5h, 1h, 5m, 1m, and 2s, with 4, 4, 11, 4, and 29 sections per ring respectively. The center dot simply adds an additional second. The idea is to multiply each lit up section by the interval it represents, and add the time together that way. So if each ring has exactly one section lit up, the time is 06:06:02 without the dot, and 06:06:03 with the dot — but you will find some more elaborate examples in his detailed write-up.
The electronic side of things is simple – an Arduino Nano runs 13 LEDs, with a digital IO pin for each. Including a real time clock module is optional, though we imagine pretty essential if you wish the clock to keep accurate time. The LEDs are fitted into a grid, which is fitted behind the windowed facade of the building. This helps block light leaks between adjacent segments, giving a more polished look to the final design. The whole assembly is built out of lasercut wood, making it a quick and easy build if you’ve got such a tool handy.
It’s a simple concept, but one that is particularly striking in action. Even to those unaware of its horological abilities, it presents the appearance of a living building, with inhabitants switching lights on and off throughout the day. It would make an excellent bookshelf or coffee table piece, and we’re highly tempted to give building our own a go. Video after the break.
This Arduino Pro Mini powered clock syncs the current time via GPS, with a temperature compensated DS3231 RTC to keep it on the straight and narrow between satellite downlinks. Once the clock has the correct time, how do you read it? Well, at the top you’ve got a basic numerical readout for the normies, and next to that there’s a circular LED display that looks like it could double as a sci-fi movie prop. On the lower level there’s a binary clock for the real show-offs, and as if that wasn’t enough, there’s even dual color-coded analog meters to show the hours and minutes.
[Fearless Night] has provided everything you need to follow along at home, from the Arduino source code to the 3D models of the case and Gerber files for the custom PCB. Personally we think just the top half of the clock would be more than sufficient for our timekeeping needs. If nothing else it should help save some energy, as the clock currently pulls an incredible 20 watts with all those LEDs firing off.
We see so many clocks here at Hackaday, and among those we see our fair share of binary clocks. But to see one that at first sight looks as though it might be a commercial product when it is in fact a one-off project is something special. That’s just what [Tobi4sDE] has done though, with his desktop BCD binary LED clock.
The front panel is a black PCB on which sit the LEDs that form the binary display, and its back holds an ATMega328P microcontroller and DS3231 real-time clock. A smart desktop case is 3D-printed, and while the clock is USB-powered it features a CR2032 coin cell as a backup to hold the time while the USB is disconnected.
Unexpectedly he’s used a mini USB socket rather than the expected micro USB, but the rest of the clock is one we’d probably all have on our desks given the chance. We’d even go so far as to say we’d have this one as a kit if it were available.
Of course, regular readers will notice that this isn’t the only high-standard BCD timepiece you’ll have seen recently, though the other one was a wristwatch.
That beautiful wiring job on the RGB LEDs was done in 18g copper. To keep the LEDs aligned during soldering, he drilled a a grid of holes just deep enough to hold ’em face down. There’s an IR remote to set the time, the color, and choice of alarm file, which is currently set to modem_sound.mp3.
Under the wood, there are a pair of Arduino Nanos, an mp3 decoder board, and an RTC module. Why two Nanos, you ask? Well, the IR interrupts kept, uh, interrupting the LED timing. The remote feature was non-negotiable, so [mattaw] dedicated one Nano to receive remote commands, which it streams serially to the other. Here’s another nice touch: there’s an LDR in one of the nooks or crannies that monitors ambient light so the LEDs are never too bright. Don’t wait another second to check it out—we’ve got 10 videos of it after the break.
Believe it or not, this isn’t the first binary clock we’ve seen. This honey of a clock uses RGB LEDs to tell the time analog style.
As multitools have lots of different functions in one case, so [Shadwan’s] clock design incorporates a multitude of features. He started the design as a binary clock using a Fibonacci spiral for the shape. However, the finished clock has four modes. The original binary clock, an analog clock, a flashlight (all lights on), and a disco mode that strobes multiple lights.
[Shadwan] used Rhino to model the case and then produced it using a laser cutter. The brains are — small wonder — an Arduino. A 3D-printed bracket holds everything together. You can see the result in the video below.
No, that watch isn’t broken. In fact, it’s better.
[Lukas] got so used to his binary-readout ez430 Chronos watch that when the strap disintegrated he had to build his own to replace it. But most DIY wristwatches are so clunky. [Lukas] wanted something refined, something small, and something timeless. So he shoe-horned some modern components, including an MSP430, into a Casio F-91W watch.
The result is a watch that tells time in binary, has a built-in compass, and with some more work will be updatable through an IR receiver that he also managed to fit in there somehow. Now he has the watch that Casio would make today, if fashion had stayed stuck firmly in the early 1990s. (Or not. Apparently, Casio still makes and sells the F-91W. Who knew?)
Anyway, back to an epic and pointless hack. Have a look at the tiny, tiny board that [Lukas] made. Marvel in the fact that he drove the original LCD screen. Dig the custom Kicad parts that match the watch’s originals. To get an accurate fit for the case, [Lukas] desoldered the piezo buzzer contact and put the board onto a scanner, which is a great trick when you need to get accurate dimensions. It’s all there, and well-documented, in his GitHub, linked above.
All in all, it’s an insane hack, but we love the aesthetics of the result. And besides, sometimes the hacking is its own reward.